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Technical official Heidi Cameron shares her love for volunteering

Volunteers are the lifeblood of all Swim England’s sports – without them, major events simply wouldn’t function.

Here, Lewis Heyn discovers from Heidi Cameron what she loves about officiating at competitions and why she would encourage others to follow in her footsteps.

Technical official Heidi Cameron had always wanted to give back to the sport she loves.

In her own words, the 20-year-old has never been a ‘super-talented swimmer’ but loved the thrill of competitions and so decided to become a volunteer.

She is now a Judge 2, having completed 20 hours of poolside work as a qualified Judge 1 and undergone further training.

And Heidi is quick to explain what is most rewarding about the role: “I really enjoy being part of a team of such lovely people,” said Heidi.

“It’s a great feeling knowing that I’m one small cog in a massive machine that’s working behind the scenes to make sure that events run as smoothly as possible.

“A lot of the swimmers that win medals at events pull out the performance of a lifetime and I think some of that is down to the atmosphere of professionalism that we, as officials, create.

“I’ve always been involved with the sport from a very young age – growing up, my mum was a swimming coach and I had all this extra time that I wanted to do something with.

“I’ve never been a super talented swimmer and despite not necessarily having the ability [to compete], I thought a really nice way to give back to the sport that I love would be to start officiating.”

Developing skills and feeling part of a team

Heidi, a medical student at the University of Sheffield, has encouraged others to follow in her footsteps and help out at events.

She’s recently officiated at both the recent GoCardless Swim England Masters National Championships and the Swim England National Summer Meet where she shared her journey to becoming a level 2 Judge.

“I started off in November 2017 by completing my timekeeper’s course as part of a local young volunteers course.

“From there, once I met the minimum age requirements, I went on to qualify as a J1 and then a J2. You complete your theory training and then you go poolside to get practical experience – normally with a qualified mentor.

“The mentors are very helpful. If you have any questions, they are very open to answering them and offering support wherever they can.”

Upon completion of the J1 training, individuals are automatically issued with their first licence, which is valid for four years. This enables them to apply to volunteer at all events up to, and including, national level.

Heidi has made friends through being an official and feels as though there is a togetherness and a camaraderie amongst her colleagues.

She said: “Officiating at national level events is a great way to meet people from outside of your county or your region.

“I really enjoy helping to put on events which have a great feel to them, that run really well and are fair for everyone.

“Everyone is really supportive and they’re all very approachable. You definitely feel like you are part of a team.

“I think it’s a great thing to do because you develop a lot of great skills. It’s really helped me with my communication skills because you interact with, and get to know, people of all ages.

“If you’re interested, I’d recommend speaking to the officials at your local club because they will be able to point you in the right direction.”

You can find out more about becoming a Technical Official here.